Just when you think you're past needing to hear this truth when you've given the thumbs up with the smile and walked out the door, you'll be needing to hear it again, at least, that's what I've experienced.
"God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm."
The man who wrote these lyrics is long gone. His name is William Cowper, and he dealt with serious battles of depression. If my memory serves me correctly, he wrote this song not to his Sunday school class, not to a loving fanbase, but to
himself. Cowper knew what he would need to hear once the storm was whipping around him, and he could not feel the sunshine of God's love. He, like all of us, continually need the reminder that our storms, our story, are cradled in the hands of God, and that He is performing wonders, mining treasures. The raging sea is not limiting to His footstep; the waves will not interrupt His course one bit.
It is fully under His merciful control, and He is fully present with us, as Jesus was present in the boat with His disciples, unworried.
If there's anything that my personal storms have taught me, it's that I continually underestimate the God of the universe.
I'm Gideon watching those men lap the water and looking up at God and saying, "No way, Hose. This ain't gonna work."
. . .
School started this past week. I went to my classes, hoping for 'the best,' which in my mind included nice teachers and classmates that agreed with my worldview and also, an easy workload.
Needless to say, these wishes were not fulfilled.
Come Thursday morning, I'm driving to my long day of classes, and I'm crying, because I know what I'm in for. If you aren't currently praying for the world of academia, especially the college classroom, I implore you to pray. I'm not sure about love being a battlefield, but a secular education certainly is. I've never experienced more spiritual darkness. . . such a muffling, vicious battle for my soul than in an ugly, cinder-block room inside the seemingly innocent Haley Center.
I was feeling sorry for myself about the storm of emotional and spiritual struggle I saw looming. I was despising my classmates and wishing the only people I knew were Christians, because it'd be ever so much easier. There I was, feeling too weak for the coming obstacles, submitting myself to God's will in the 'horrible' semester to come, telling the Lord I'd endure it for Him and praying He'd help me to make it out barely alive. The level of drama makes me wince now.
Lovingly, the Lord nudged me with a few pieces of truth, with food for my soul.
First of all, children of God don't enter their battles alone. The God who is a consuming fire lives inside of us. There is nothing He can't do.
The One-who-has-always-been promises "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
The Shepherd never asked me if I was strong enough for the journey; He knows me better than I know me, He chose me, and will carry me over His shoulder when I cannot continue.
Jesus never asked for our strength. He asks for our surrender. I look at my classes and realize I'm not quite qualified, not quite the perfect fit, maybe not even intellectually up to the challenge, and so easily discouraged. But what freeing news: that Christ doesn't want the perfectly qualified, strong, self-sufficient warrior, but a sheep that trusts Him and will obey.
Secondly, I'm completely drowning in sin when I descend to despising and bemoaning some of my classmates and professors. Christ commands me to love my neighbor, to love even my enemies. They meet the qualifications. No loophole here. The Creator crafted these people in the womb.. They are lovingly made in His image. They are the lost sheep, eating brambles in a desert. Where is my compassion? Was I not also lost once? What did Jesus say to Peter?
"Do you love me?. . . Feed my sheep."
We're not called to wage war with the sheep, but to love the lost and wage war with darkness. I'd been sinfully directing my anger towards the deceived, the lost, starving sheep in Satan's pasture. Hate the sin, not the sinner, as they say."For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." - Ephesians 6:12
Thirdly, I was reminded of a piercing story I heard this summer, about a missionary couple in China who learned to delight in the midst of their trials. They were able to delight (good grief, what a word!) because each trial was an opportunity, an adventure in which they were privileged to see God work, to watch Him performing His wonders in mysterious ways, to walk more and more closely with Him as the wolves circled closer.
Picture me, staring into the sunrise, mouth open, because I'd been so blind.
I was complaining about a blessing, like attempting to carry a horse instead of hopping on board.
It should be my honor, my delight to serve Christ in those classrooms or wherever. I GET to be there, to follow Him there and see Him perform wonders. What can He not do? When has He failed me before?
His ways may be unfathomable to my finite mind, but they are good! He put me right there in that classroom with a loving reason, and He'll use my weakness there. Praise Him, the God of Wonders.
Please pray for Auburn University, for revival, for redemption, for Light to pierce the darkness in hearts at colleges across the country. Please pray for me, that I will trust and obey.
Truly, He is the God of surprises, who constantly gives gracious gifts, the profferer of the olive branch. For the first time in my college career, one of my professors walked into the classroom with a fire in his eyes and hiking boots on his heels and proclaimed himself "an unashamed follower of Jesus Christ," and that his mission in the class is to give us a sense of WONDER.
And I wonder at my continuing doubt and distrust. Christ is everywhere, present and powerful in the most unexpected places, where we never thought we'd find Him, planting His footsteps in the storm.
What kind of wonders I will see this semester, I could never predict.
I can but follow.
Praise the Lord.